by Marta Isaacson
SUBJECT AREA: Math: Deductive Reasoning, Mapping Skills, Using Coordinates on a Grid, Sequencing, Solving Multiple Step Problems, Recognizing Geometric Shapes, Spatial Awareness, Understanding Whole/Part Relationships, and Encoding and Decoding.
PUBLISHER: Theatrix Interactive, Inc. (800)955-TRIX
COST: $34.95 Teacher's Edition
INTENDED AUDIENCE: Grades 1-5
NOTABLE SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Windows: 486/25Mhz or better, 8 MB RAM, 2x CD-ROM Macintosh: LCIII or better, System 7, 8 MB RAM, 2x CD-ROM
DESCRIPTION: The plot of this offbeat adventure revolves around the crash landing in the town of Seaviewz of two cartoon characters from the planet "Snoot." "Flarn" and "Foozle" are on a Great Trek to collect items on the Big List. "Al's Dog," who witnessed the landing, serves as a guide as students help the Snoots find the items by completing the following activities:
1) Hide and Seek - Flarn or Foozle hides somewhere in town, and students must find it. Students learn about graphical representation and compass directions as they click on squares of a grid that represents Seaviewz. Al's Dog gives "hot" or "cold" hints as students eliminate areas. Guesses are listed in the "Guess Box" to help students track their path.
2) Street Music - Two modes of play are offered. Students can click on a sequence of objects and play back the symphony they have created, or they can match a sequence created by Flarn as they test their auditory and visual memory.
3) Frumptz Elevator - The elevator takes students to different departments in Frumptz' Store as they attempt to match articles of clothing, colors, and patterns. Students can help Foozle put together a dream outfit, or they can create one of their own. In matching Foozle's choices, students choose from three difficulty levels.
4) Bump the Bumptz - In this variation on Nine Men's Morris, the goal is to capture seven of the other player's Bumptz from the board or to trap the other player's Bumptz so they can't move. A student may play against another student or Flarn (easy level) or Foozle (harder level). Players take turns placing Bumptz on spaces on a grid. Three in a row allows the player to "bump" one of the other player's Bumptz. When all Bumptz are placed on the grid, players continue to move theirs along the line until the game is completed.
5) Al's Garage - Students help Flarn and Foozle buy the parts Al the mechanic needs to repair their spaceship. Students identify the part on the Pieces & Parts machine and then buy it by completing a pattern. There are three levels of difficulty, and students practice spatial relationships/transformations and recognizing geometric shapes as they select and rotate the shapes to duplicate the puzzle.
6) The Translator - Snootz do not speak English, and their garbled speech is represented by symbols. The Translator decodes their messages into English, and it allows students to have their messages encoded into Snootian.
7) The Library - Here students can find books which provide detailed instructions for each activity. They can also read up on Snootology and learn the tale of the Snootz and their Great Trek.
The Big List items can appear at any time on any screen, so students will need to complete all the activities to compile them all. Games can be saved. As they progress through the game, students are rewarded with photos of their adventures. Clicking on the Snap Shotz booth allows them to view their photo album. Students can type captions beneath each picture.
Flarn and the user engage in a game of Bump the Bumptz.
STRENGTHS: The wacky characters and their crazy escapades create a highly engaging atmosphere for learning math concepts. Students are motivated to keep working in order to find all the Big List items. The activities clearly match the stated objectives, and the Teacher's Guide provides interesting off-computer activities which extend learning. One of these activities teaches students to encode a Braille message.
WEAKNESSES: When Flarn and Foozle speak in Snootian, having to translate their message via The Translator may be a hindrance to poor readers or a distraction to some students. Immediate onscreen help within the activities would be better than having to use The Library for directions.
SUMMARY: Students love games, and helping Flarn and Foozle find their Big List items will keep students plugging away at the activities. Snootz Math Trek helps students understand the underlying concepts of math and provides an excellent complement to a complete math curriculum.
Marta Isaacson is a graduate student in the Department of Special Education at The College of New Jersey.
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